The Walking Dead 3.3: “Welcome To Stepford”

Hosted By Fashion and Entertainment Editor Joe Lamour

Happy Halloween, everyone! Let’s talk about eating brains.

This week, we were introduced to The Governor. His name warrants bolding, capitalization, and other fanfare because he’s clearly this season’s Big Bad: much less annoying, but way more insane than Shane. Funny how zombies were only the first season’s villain.

Even though the East Coast is a mess this week–and only one of us lives on the West Coast–almost everyone snuggled up to watch adults stab decaying people in the head. Fun!

Kiki Smith, Kenneth Hwynn, and Jeannie Chan (all New York City dwellers, mind you) and I had a zombie tete-à-tete-tete-à-tete. We also welcome Jenn Kim, a new tete–and a rather astute tete at that.

More zombie shenanigans under the cut!

* Also, pretty please, commenters, no graphic novel-related spoilers. I was researching Skyfall (admittedly, because the new Moneypenny is the first black Moneypenny, and that’s super.) But anyway, I clicked on a link at some point and read a spoiler that ruined my life. Don’t worry: the link is about the spoiling; it doesn’t list the spoiler right in the beginning, unlike Wikipedia. Seriously, I read it about twelve hours ago, and my face is still hot. Surely, you don’t want to do that to anyone else?

Toodaloo, You Two (And They haven’t Even Told Us Your Names Yet!)

Joe: It looks like those helicopters from the season finale made their way into the show, Kiki!

Kiki: Yes! Finally!! Was wondering when they were going to broach that subject again…

Ken: Need more backstory on the dudes in the ‘copter, honestly. They seem so clueless…anyone wanna bet it was the Governor’s crew that shot them down?

Joe: They probably have been in the barracks since this whole thing started. Which is actually the opposite of what the army should be doing…

Jeannie: I don’t know if it’s just the quality of my computer screen, this particular link I’m streaming from, but this opening scene with the army men is looking very low-quality, 70s. I’m getting an Apocalypse Now-ish vibe. (Or what I imagine that vibe to be since I have never seen that movie.)

Kiki: I’m only like 5 minutes into this episode…and I’m already irritated again by these supposed “slave” zombies. Especially right about when Michonne harnesses them like horses to a tree. It keeps getting weirder.

Joe: Cosign. She seems to have survived before Andrea, mostly by herself. Michonne definitely is portrayed as deeply hardened. Like, how telling is it that a pre-apocalypse person would have either recoiled in absolute horror at a man torn in two or at least made a slight gasp. It was like Michonne was looking at a park bench or something.

Jenn: It was totally weird and disconcerting to see, but also a somewhat fascinating look into Michonne’s psyche.

Ken: Andrea is already annoying me, and she hasn’t said a word yet.

Joe: To be honest, Rick has the same effect on me lately. More Michonne this season! In other minority-actors-who-have-actual-lines news, I think it’s an interesting choice, the sounds the actor playing the soldier was making after he turned…perhaps, because he was new and his lungs hadn’t started decomposing yet? Am I reading too much into this?

Kiki: Aaaannd now adding on to my previous comment…that issue was quickly resolved in the most brutal manner possible. Le sigh.

Jeannie: Couldn’t we have learned who they were before they were beheaded? Because then the swift manner–and the apparent ease with which it’s executed–would be so much more poignant. Gawrsh, do I have to write this show myself?!

Joe: LOL. I agree. Michonne has fantastic form. I always feel like I’m watching a ceremony or a demonstration or something. And I’d like to think the writers are reading our comments, even though this episode was written and filmed before we even started…

The powers that be must have seen the two zombies in the first episode and said “And these guys just follow her around, in chains…all season?” That, or someone actually had a moment of awareness…on a show who has a character like T-Dog.

Jeannie: But look, other PoC! Yay! Who are these guys!

Joe: Villains, probably…

Oh…You’re Back. Sigh.

Kiki: Oh Merle, the racist douche we never wanted to but knew would return.

Joe: I thought the way the mysterious voice over said “girl” sounded a little pre-Civil Rights. I hope that Michonne delivers a verbal beatdown Merle can’t ever recover from before the season is over. Writers, can you hear me!? I want a “Big Mistake. Huge.” to his “It’s verrry expensive.”

Jeannie: As much as he is a racist douche, I actually eagerly anticipated his return. He was a total racist but I liked the tension he added in the beginning of the show. Writing the lines of a racist character, and being able to handle those scenes, says much more about the show’s integrity than simply writing off the character altogether. I want to see how this plays out.

Jenn: I agree that Merle has the potential to bring back interesting new tensions to the show, particularly regarding his relationship with Daryl (and T-Dog!). But a part of me has always felt that a blatantly racist character like Merle gives the other white characters reason to be self-congratulatory for their less obvious racist actions and sentiments.

Ken: Is it just me or does the only other Asian dude on the show look and act just like the main Asian dude? Maybe he’s only supposed to be a teenage boy, but put a little extra thought into making him multi-dimensional or something….Or maybe Steve Yeun’s stunt double wanted a non-speaking part…tsk tsk…

Joe: I dunno, it looks like they’re T-Dogging (Am I coining a word here? Here’s hoping!) these henchmen so far. All of them seem pretty one dimensional to me. “Here’s a big scary black guy looking at Michonne and Andrea all rapey, cause that’s what! Isn’t he scary?” Also, I’m sorry Merle… “Wait for my brother on the other side”? You’re talking about the same brother you didn’t notice wander off into the woods for nine days?

Kiki: Seriously. And his attitude toward him when they were together wasn’t exactly all roses either.

Ken: Wow, Merle went all cybernetic on us and is as dislikeable as ever. This is gonna be an interesting backstory.

Joe: How can anyone in the universe be comfortable talking to a man with an icepick prosthetic? Zombie apocalypse or not. What if he accidentally brushes past you? Or swings at you for “not knowing your place” (’cause you just know he says things like that)?

Kiki: I know Michonne is trying keep with appearances and all with her mysterious physique and stuff, but she seriously needs to speak up and say something more than “go” or “where are our weapons?”

Joe: They’re definitely selling her as the mysterious new person, who thinks that words are useless in this new world. But sometimes, you need to express a thought, right? Like Tom and Lorenzo said in their review:

“We realize her silent treatment is a big part of her schtick, but even in the static world of graphic novel storytelling, the reader was able to perceive the depths behind her stoic face and the fact that she was carrying deep pain. Last night, we got one too many “What you talkin’ about, Willis” scowls without enough of the sense of danger the character carries.”

I’m sorry, but I laughed for a good minute after reading that because that’s pretty much what I’ve been thinking. I’ll wait patiently for her to say something un-brusque (two more episodes, max) before I start getting annoyed.

Kiki: I can handle that, and I see what you mean, Joe. Good point.

Jeannie: Agreed. Please give her some lines, please please please.

The Guv–(Nope, Can’t Do It) The Governor’s Paradise

Kiki: Now, let’s move on to the topic of this mystery utopian village in the middle of nowhere. Strangers put guns to Michonne and Andrea’s faces, and they are taken care of and fed. Now, that’s all fine and dandy, but suddenly they “have control of this zombie situation”? PUH-lease. This so called self-proclaimed “guv-nah” is just cruisin for a bruisin’ or should I say bitin’?

Joe: I dunno, Stepford looks pretty clean. I mean…Woodbury.

Kiki: This “guv’nah” needs to cool it on the crazy eyes when he’s talking about civilisation rising again. I’ll put money on it that’s why Michonne keeps throwing him the crazy stink-eye at him every time he opens his mouth to speak.

Ken: Merle is giving off such a rape-y vibe, even Andrea is getting creeped out–even though she was cool with sleeping with Shane.

Joe: Everyone in this town is giving off that vibe, Ken. Everyone. Whenever someone of authority says something to the effect of “You can leave whenever you want to. It’s completely safe here!” you probably want to sneak away and call 911 before he christens you as a new sister wife. Also, I know this is unrelated, but I love this the vest The Governor (I just can’t bring myself to type it that way, Kiki. LOL)

Kiki: Truth. LOL, of course Mr. Fashion and Entertainment Editor has to make a outfit comment. Fair enough, my friend, fair enough. Also, sorry, I’m on a roll. “Guv’nah” seemed appropriate at the time, ha.

Joe: Fashion and Entertainment Editor. (And now, I’m giving myself 25 hoity-toity points.)

Kiki: Har dee har, Joe. Quite frankly, I don’t blame her for being so damned skeptical. Looks shady if you ask me.

Jeannie: Anything this idyllic in a post-apocalyptic world has got to be shady! I wouldn’t trust a single thing this Governor person says. Stylin’ vest or no.

Joe: I really love his vest. It’s also very smart for the wardrobe people to put him in something only a politician would wear on Camp David, and it happens to be a hunting vest as well. I’ve been dipping into some weird WASP preference in clothing lately, like I want to be that one black guy in all the Ralph Lauren ads or something. Aaaand, now I’m dreaming of being the one person in the world to survive a zombie apocalypse just to go to Hermes and loot. Anyway, back to zombies and the people who hate them. I was going to ask why is it that the black character is oftentimes the skeptic in television–and here, rightly so–but It appears this is a well known trope. For the other side of this trope, just watch The Mist.

Jeannie: But the question is also, why isn’t Andrea more skeptical? I thought she’d be harder to win over than this. After all she’s been through, you’d think that she wouldn’t be so quick to accept this town on surface level.

Jenn: I thought it was interesting that the writers brought up Andrea’s sister for the first time in what feels like forever. It served as a warm jolt of reality: we’re reminded of how much Andrea lost when her sister got bitten and how much Andrea initially pushed people away as a reaction to her sister’s death. Maybe she’s finally reached acceptance and is ready to start anew.

Kiki: Question, please? Why is the only other black dude on this compound giving Michonne the stink-eye, like, “what on earth could this other black person be doing here, stop cramping my style”-type attitude?

Joe: He certainly was giving some “new meat in town” salaciousness, so that’s unfortunate. But, to be honest, if I didn’t see another black person for months, I would hug the next one I saw in this world. Imagine what it’s like in that world. I find it odd that there hasn’t been any acknowledgement between minorities who run into each other. Likely, because it’s so rare on this show, congratulations should be in order. Honestly, they make the zombie apocalypse look like going to college in Rhode Island.

Jeannie: Seriously. I feel like in the real world, people gravitate towards each other in an unspoken and unconscious call for solidarity, especially when it’s obvious that you’re different.

Jenn: It really felt like this was going on, but I’m holding onto hope that the writers will explain the tension between the two of them.

Joe: Well, that clip is awesome. I bet those two actors felt a certain amount of satisfaction filming that.

Kiki: Oh, and the other black dude in this episode killed by a helicopter blade–cut in half and then stabbed in the forehead by this “guv’nah” all in the course of 3 minutes…like being killed once wasn’t enough?

Joe: You certainly like typing his name that way. LOL. I can hear you saying it in my mind’s ear. I understand why Michonne is mean mugging The Governor, but it’s never a good idea to show your enemy your hand.

Jenn: The many deaths of the pilot was an interesting way for the writers to tell Michonne and Andrea that the virus lives in them all, bite or no bite. No better way to do it than stabbing a knife through the head of a man whose torso and legs are hanging by a bloody thread! (I’m not going to lie; I gagged and yelled, “How the hell are you able to show this on television, AMC??” at my TV during that scene.)

Joe: They can show that amount of grossness, and yet, they haven’t included a gay or lesbian anywhere. Not like I want them to cast Sean Hayes or something, but did we all die? Not cool. Not even the jail…during an apocalypse. P.S.: Why didn’t any of those prisoners say anything about Maggie? A beautiful woman rolls into your prison after a year of solitude after untold amounts of prison time and not one of them says anything? Not even…“Where’d that girl go?” Leg chopping or not…I mean…come on. Can’t have it both ways, writers. But also, while looking for article photos, I thought about including the 50/50 soldier, but I could only look at it for like…less than a second. I made a subconscious excuse to check my email on my phone during the head stabbing part, too. I was like… this is too much for my senses right now.

And God, Governor, do not fondle the zombie’s neck cavity. Gross.

Everyone Asks Everyone Else Uncomfortable Questions Over Eggs

I wondered when someone would broach the subject about who those two are–thanks, Sidekick Guy. It looks like Andrea never asked, like I thought. I guess I wouldn’t ask too many personal questions, either, in a world with so many unhappy and heavily armed people. Or maybe, Michonne wouldn’t tell her?

Kiki: They hinted at something personal but maybe time will tell? There was a tinge of I might cry at the memory for approximately .3 seconds before Michonne turned back to her angry, standoff-ish, “don’t ask questions” face.

Jeannie: And we still don’t know! Why the hesitation to reveal their identities?

Joe: Remember the Lori and Rick flashbacks? Relatively happy and with clean clothing? If there isn’t a Michonne flashback with what her life was like before all this…major mistake on the writers part. I won’t spoil it, and hopefully the commenters won’t either! In other news, I want a Glenn flashback just as badly. Give us something! Hire a writer from Lost. They looooove flashbacks.

Hollywood Falls Back Into Old Habits, And Our Reactions To ‘The Twist’

Kiki: …..sigh…. and there goes another Asian character as a lackey to a supposed “higher-up” to do the “guv’nah’s” bidding.

Jeannie: Mmhm.

Ken: Glenn vs. Un-Glenn, 12 round caged death match…winner get’s to be the token Asian guy on the show.

Jenn: Classic “this guy” vs. “this guy” situation. My minimum requirement for New Asian Guy is that he at least speaks with no Asian accent and also gets to hook up with a hot white woman.

Joe: Is it odd that I’m getting a distinctly…“traditional” feel from what The Governor envisions as a proper society? I don’t want to make any obvious comparisons to who I think he shares some potential leadership traits with, but it frightens me. Maybe that’s why there are no gay people–and again, mostly Caucasian Americans, ouside of Atlanta. Atlanta! 

Ken: Joe I get that vibe, too, I also get the feeling the reason he’s probably looking to “repopulate” the world with Andrea and Michonne.

Joe: I think he wants to repopulate with Andrea a little more… I’ll leave it there. And here, after breakfast, he just broached Phase Two: Stay Awhile. Forever!

Kiki: Well, it is election season. So, of course they had to throw some of that unsaid-but-blatantly-obvious commentary in there.

Jenn: No, it’s not odd at all, Joe. It’s his speech, his dress, his mannerisms, and the control he exerts over the people and the town in an effort to “protect” them.

Joe: Oh…oh my. I knew this guy was cray-cray, but good grief. It makes me super excited for this season…The Walking Dead is changing me in ways I don’t understand.

Jeannie: Holy crap, what the hell is going on in Stepford.

Kiki: Confirmed. The “guv’nah” is crazy town. The end.

Ken: Guv’nah…you’re a weird dude.

Joe: And he’s only been on for 40 minutes! Imagine what the season will be like.

Post Un-Mortem

Joe: P.S., I didn’t even notice ’til now that Rick and company weren’t in the episode at all. That’s telling that this world the writers created is so interesting that they don’t actually need the main characters. Maybe they should give some of Rick’s lines to other people…

Jeannie: Yeah, it’s not a good sign when the most interesting episode in a long time had none of the leading characters in them.

Kiki: Come to think of it, I didn’t notice that, either. Maybe its telling how important Michonne is building up to be to the storyline? And maybe we’ll get her to actually have a full-on conversation instead of her constant, yet fairly valid skeptically angry “What you talkin’ about, Willis” stares?

Jenn: Well, I noticed that there was no Daryl. But that’s probably because I want Norman Reedus’ babies. Why won’t he return my calls??

This week’s Michonne Beheading Count is 2. Goodbye, [SPOILER ALERT] and [SPOILER ALERT].

  • Denise Winters

    I got kinda upset with Andrea getting on Micchone for not opening up. As far as I am concerned, Andrea knows the only thing she needs to know:
    This consumate survivor risked her life staying with a sick woman she just met, and remains in what is obviously a sketchy situation because the woman she nursed back to health after just meeting refuses to leave.
    And the guv’a'nah strikes me as creepy controlling. I don’t think he did what he did to the soldiers because he feared they were a threat to the people, but rather his unquestioned authority. Also creeped out by how at first it seemed like most people there were women. And Mr. Staring Black Man is very disturbing, and that “Token Black Guy” clip was immediately what I thought of. It was like he could be seen thinking “Awwww crap, did my chance of survival just cut in half?”, maybe next week he’ll be nicer when he realizes its probably doubled. Also, is he not the worse discreet guard ever? I mean, is he even trying to go unnoticed? How could Andrea possibly ignore mccreepy following them?!
    I think both the black actors might be toying with the idea of how they are expected to act. I mean the whole menancing thing, not just being silent and withdrawn, but menancing, is so overplayed.

  • Anonymous

    I guess it’s to be expected that characterizations will be a bit diff b/t the comics and television show. But I recall from the comics Michonne not being that shy about her zombies. I’m hoping that she does have some speaking lines considering how little we know about her character. Or perhaps she is meant to be T-Dog 2.0 but with a sword. And not happy with the lackluster inclusion of POC extras and of course with Glenn’s lack of development. He’s pretty much a lackey/support character in the main group. I don’t get any idea of his motivations and desires outside of his relationship with Maggie. A flashback would be really nice.

    And where the prisoners are concerned, I don’t think they ever saw any of the women. So they really couldn’t say anything about Maggie in particular.

    I’ve mainly been getting a mammy vibe where Micohnne is concerned. If any of you watched True Blood’s most recent season her repeating the phrase “we want our weapons” reminded me of the scene with Tara saying to Sookie “you owe Pam”. Just very one-note. But in particular with Andrea acting the way she is Michonne is like her protector and caretaker. She has all the sense and Andrea has none. And Andrea gets all the speaking parts.

    And it is a trope for the sole black character to be a skeptic. I recently watched a parody of reality TV, and it was a very good parody, where the black gay guy was the initial skeptic until everyone else in the house started to wake up from the matrix. It’s called “Sex House” by the Onion on Youtube if you’re interested. It’s a bit disturbing as well. I heard the actors used the be on reality TV shows themselves, so they could just ad-lib.

  • distance88

    No mention of “My shit never stopped being together” by Michonne?!?! Hmph.

  • distance88

    No mention of “My shit never stopped being together” by Michonne?!?! Hmph.

  • http://twitter.com/maihgread Heather

    I will say this of Michonne in the graphic novels: many of the complaints you voice here are the same one readers have had for a long time. She just is. Not saying that it’s a good thing, but it’s typical for her story and not just as a problem of a show that doesn’t seem to know with any number of its characters.

  • http://twitter.com/maihgread Heather

    I will say this of Michonne in the graphic novels: many of the complaints you voice here are the same one readers have had for a long time. She just is. Not saying that it’s a good thing, but it’s typical for her story and not just as a problem of a show that doesn’t seem to know with any number of its characters.

  • Anonymous

    Though the Guv does cut an appealing figure in that vest, I’m disappointed that they have Andrea mooning over him so hardcore, and ignoring the spidey-sense of someone who’s played a big part in keeping her alive for 8 months or so.

    Also, I kept wondering when we’d see the effects of the tea and what’s up with that. At first I thought it might be something to make them sick and then they’d have to stay for a while. Now I’m wondering if it’s something that keeps the population docile and not inclined to ask questions…

    • Joseph Lamour

      Quaaludes, maybe? I read some review where they thought the tea was made by using the water in those zombie head tanks. You may all freak out now like I did.

  • Anonymous

    Though the Guv does cut an appealing figure in that vest, I’m disappointed that they have Andrea mooning over him so hardcore, and ignoring the spidey-sense of someone who’s played a big part in keeping her alive for 8 months or so.

    Also, I kept wondering when we’d see the effects of the tea and what’s up with that. At first I thought it might be something to make them sick and then they’d have to stay for a while. Now I’m wondering if it’s something that keeps the population docile and not inclined to ask questions…

  • Linda

    I have to say I gave serious side eye to the brown man raking the Guv’nah’s yard when he walked out of his house in the morning. I said to my tv, “Really?”